Answers to readers' questions about Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Jamelia and more!

YOUR PARIS IS GIVING MY CAREY A MINOGUE


Keith,

You said last week that Mariah Carey is not in the (same) ball park (as) the Beatles. I love both and disagree. Just had to put in my two cents.

However, you said on your list of your favorite 2006 songs (kudos on including Elton John) that you are ready to defend Paris Hilton's album. I'd really like to hear you do so. I absolutely despise it, and I have listened to all of it more than once. No one likes a fun pop record more than me, but I find her singing to have no soul and her voice to have no strength. Why wouldn't I just buy a Kylie Minogue album instead?

I'd love to hear your take on her.

Many thanks,
Rudy Palma

Hi Rudy,

First, if I justify why Paris Hilton's album is good, then you should give me reasons why Mariah Carey is in the same ball park as the Beatles. I'm not saying that you don't have valid reasons ¬ I'm sure you do ¬ but you just didn't say why she should considered on the same level them. As I stated last week, I don't believe her cultural impact is quite the same as the Beatles.

I do think that Carey has achieved extraordinary success and has written and recorded some very memorable songs. Say, "Vision Of Love," "We Belong Together" or "One Sweet Day," for example. Really, I'm not bashing Carey.

It's not a "the Beatles are better than her" sort of thing. Carey is a great singer ¬ one of the best that pop music has seen in the past 20 years. To be honest, there are few acts, if any, that can be held on the same level as the Beatles.

Now, switching gears to Hilton's album. I think that if you were to listen to the album without any knowledge of who the artist is, your impression might be different. I can listen to the album as a pure pop music fan, and admire its qualities. There are some really fun songs on there ¬ like "Nothing In This World," or the "Grease"-sampling "I Want You." Sure, Hilton's voice isn't really all that much to write home about. But it's serviceable ¬ and that's all the songs require. I don't think Hilton set out to create "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band." I believe her only intention was to produce a fun pop album ¬ and that's what she did.

I don't think your comparison of Hilton to Kylie Minogue holds water. In the same breath, you say you love "fun pop," diss Hilton for her lack of vocal skills, and then say that you'd be equally served by purchasing a Minogue album. (Suggesting that Minogue's vocal skills are on par with Hilton, thus, Minogue's material must be horrible.)

How can you love "fun pop" and not like Minogue? She's made some of the best pop music in the past 15 years despite her limited voice. It may be limited, but it's unique and distinctive.

Minogue has surrounded herself with talented songwriters and producers that help craft tunes that support her vocal range. You can't tell me that Minogue's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" isn't one of the best pop songs of the past 10 years. It's sleek, sexy, catchy and has got a chorus that won't get out of your head.

Speaking of fun pop, I can think back to enjoyable pop songs from the '80s and '90s that that didn't require a multi-octave amazing singer. Say, Paula Abdul's "Straight Up," Samantha Fox's "I Wanna Have Some Fun," Lisa Lisa's "Lost In Emotion," or the utterly disposable "Two Of Hearts" by Stacey Q.

Now, I do think that Hilton's voice is probably less substantial than most of the other women I mentioned, but I'm just trying to prove a point.

Sometimes a particular song doesn't require a classically great voice.

Even my favorite artist, Madonna, doesn't have a technically amazing voice.

She's no Mariah or Whitney Houston, obviously. But she can still write, produce and record songs that are great ¬ it's not always about how long you can wail, or what glory note you can hit.




SINCE SHE BEEN GONE


Keith

I have a question concerning Kelly Clarkson's third album. MTV and VH1 have stated on their Web sites that the album will be released in late April/early May, but the "American Idol" Web site stated that the album was set for release in February (however, this article is a bit older). I was wondering if you have any news regarding the title and the release date of this album.

Thanks,
Jim Smith
Detroit, Mich.


Hi Jim,

Right now, according to Kelly Clarkson's publicist, her as-yet-untitled third album is due in mid-spring or early summer. It will be the follow-up to her smash "Breakway" set, which spent 103 weeks on The Billboard 200 and has sold 5.6 million copies.



SEND HER OUT AN 'SOS'

Hi Keith,

I enjoy your column every week and I wanted to say that I agree with many of your choices for the best singles of 2006. In fact, many of them are on my iPod and are still huge favorites when I listen to them.

However, there is one great song I just discovered a few weeks ago that wasn't in your list. I am talking about Jamelia's "Beware of the Dog," which I think is a great track.

Are there any plans to release her album in the U.S. in 2007? I believe it could do for her what "SOS" did for Rihanna in terms of chart success, since Jamelia's song extensively samples Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus."

What are your thoughts?

Thanks,

Jaime Puentes
Toronto


Hi Jaime,

Unfortunately, I'm unaware if Jamelia's latest album will get an American release. She's been fairing just OK on the U.K. charts ¬-- this week, "Beware of the Dog" is in the top 40 of the Official U.K. Singles Chart.

Unfortunately, her album isn't anywhere to be found in the top 75 albums.

After listening to "Beware of the Dog" again for the first time in a while, I immediately see how you can compare it to Rihanna's "SOS." Beyond the surface similarities (both women are R&B singers, both are sampling a classic older electronic song), the two tracks actually sonically are quite comparable.